Is the Government buying all the Sierra bullets so that there are none left for customers?

mattSierraBullets2We asked Sierra Bullets Vice-President of Sales, Matt Reams, “Is the Government buying all the Sierra bullets so that there are none left for customers?

The Short Answer: Absolutely not.

We have been asked this millions of times this year due to the internet rumor mill being in high gear again, as it was back in 2009.

The Long Answer: 
Government sales are a very small part of what we do.  We are a private company and I am contractually bound (as are all of our executives) from disclosing any sales data.  What I can tell you is if we lost all our government sales in a normal year, our day-to-day business would not be changed a great deal.  We may need to lay a person or 2 off at the most, but that would be it.  Now on the other hand, if we lost even ½ our US shooting market sales, we would be laying off entire shifts.  We all see the government as this huge entity with unlimited resources, but their sales pale into nothingness when compared to what the US shooting community needs – even on a normal year.  When you factor in the 7 fold increase in retail sales this year and the sequesters reduction in government sales – it is even less of a factor than a normal year. Our 2013 government sales are actually lower than 2012.

I know the rumors about huge government agency purchases along with the shortages makes some people draw conclusions that simply are not the case.  Being in sales, I can tell you that a government agency requesting a bid for 2 billion rounds of ammo is a FAR cry from a government agency BUYING 2 billion rounds of ammo.  The shooting industry is a fairly close industry and we all know each other pretty well and word gets around quickly.  I personally do not know of a single company who has been awarded this bid, let alone one that is working on it.  The shooting industry would know it pretty quick.  Many companies sell to government agencies and have for many, many years.  These small segments of business are not causing the shortages in any way, I promise you that.

When the conspiracy theorists tell you “the shooting industry is lying to you and that all the sales are going to the government,” remember this, the shooting industry is made up of thousands of people just like you.  We are in the industry because we love to shoot and hunt.  We are at the range on weekends just down from you punching paper, slapping steel or sighting in.  Our employees think about the government and the laws that are being introduced the same way you do.  Now, picture if YOU worked at one of these companies and saw this kind of thing going on.  You would be very upset to say the least.  So imagine how hard it would be for the entire shooting industry to be in on some massive conspiracy with the government to not sell to the US shooters.  Saying it would be impossible is an understatement, and I would expect my office would be on fire by now.  Our people would never stand for it even if we were stupid enough to want to do it.

So what makes more sense, the conspiracy theories or that sales really are that strong and the industry simply cannot keep up?  The next time there is a gun show in your area, go for a visit and see how many people are there compared to normal and look at the ridiculous prices they are paying for products.  This is the same panic buying that is gripping many US shooters driving them to buy more than they ever have, creating these shortages.

One thing we can do that the conspiracy theorists cannot, is prove it.  We do tours all day long and everyone is welcome to come for a tour.  The first department you walk through is our shipping department and you will see the millions of bullets lined up to ship that day and where they are going.  You will recognize all the distributors names and not see any with the words “Department of” anything in front of them.  We invite you all to come see for yourself.

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43 Responses to Is the Government buying all the Sierra bullets so that there are none left for customers?

  1. blairboone says:

    Thank you for this simple and clear refutation of the conspiracy theories that have been driving ammunition hoarding by shooters and scalping by unscrupulous individuals, creating artificial scarcity for all of us.


  2. J says:

    As I expected. Thanks for the clarity!


  3. Lew Porter says:

    Thanks for your answer


  4. Pingback: For all you conspiracy theorists

  5. Bernard says:

    So why the shortage in components? It sure does not appear the quantities that justify the shortage are showing up in the hands of the consumers…


    • J says:

      Bernard; Every shooter I know is on a mission to stockpile every round of everything they shoot, that they can. Having pushed the supply chain to its absolute limit, they have now resorted to trying to pry ammo and components from those of us who, tried to get them to purchase bulk 6 years ago.

      Frankly I never really bought into the conspiracy especially given the lack of corroborating evidence. The entirety of the argument was conjectural and fueled by fear – not that I think the fear wasn’t warranted but there simply hasn’t been the level of proof any of us would like to see other than the word of a few bloggers regurgitating someone else’s “facts”.

      His one comment was the most truthful and stands as a vanguard against wasting fear and anxiety on faceless ghosts; it defies common sense to think you could get the entire ammunition industry and all of its employees to agree to lie about some conspiracy between some agency of government, and the management of all ammunition and ammunition components manufacturers.


      • Sid says:

        I agree with J. As incompetent as the government is, they would never be able to pull it off, i.e. Fast and Furious, Benghazi, IRS scandal, AP snooping, and probably more that will be revealed in the wake of the scrutiny.

        This is a wakeup call concerning supply and demand. There are those of us who have been buying a little more than we need for years and probably have enough to last us for a lifetime. A lot of those who are buying everything as soon as it hits the shelves are those who are just now becoming aware of how little the Second Amendment means to those in power. I just hope they are as ardent in their support of those fighting for our gun rights as they are in searching out ammunition.


  6. Rodney Crowe says:

    Thank you for the honesty! My faith remains in the industry, so I will enjoy the sport I am passionate about!


  7. John says:

    I am glad to see this information and I believe what you say. The whole ammunition industry being involved in a conspiracy would indeed be the harder of the two for me to believe. There are still some things I am curious about regarding the bid request. Unless I misunderstood it appears that the bid request is not necessarily in question, just that it is not being filled by anyone. Please forgive me if I am wrong about that, but if the bid request is real does the amount of ammunition that is reportedly being sought after seem unusual or normal/reasonable? I am honestly asking because I don’t know. Is it standard practice for a government agency to request bids for amounts of ammunition that someone in your position perceives as a far cry between requesting and buying? Any additional info is appreciated.


    • Dave Ki says:

      John,gotta agree.Is it standard for all the hollow points going to Govt. agencies that really have anything to do with any form of combat? ie S.S, SSI etc. All the MRAP’S. Thought things were kinda winding down. I’ve seen ammo shortages and people panic buy but nothing like this.Reloading supplies almost non existent.22 non existent.I shouldn’t say non but close to it. About the only thing I can always find are 7mm ,6.5, .300 mag. and 20 ga.skeet load. And no,no tin foil hat.


    • Hello John,

      While I, like you, do question why certain agencies need that much ammunition, I also work on bids like these every year. They call them IDIQ bids (Indefinite Date Indefinite Quantity) which basically says “We want a bid for 5 billion rounds over 5 years, but in actuality we are really going to send you a PO for 10 million rounds over 5 years”. The object of course is to get the best price they can by asking for so much, but the nature of the bid requires you to honor the price even if it is less than the max – in most cases much less. We all know the game and if things should change they can buy the max amount over the time period they requested, but that rarely happens. I can actually say I have never personally seen the max purchase made on one of these. So why are they asking for so much? I am not sure, probably for the reasons above. I do know that is not a huge thing in and of itself – but if you see something like this funded and the purchase order made for that much, we should be questioning it indeed. Remember, any department can ask for a bid by themselves. Getting the funding to buy it however is another story and that is where our elected officials and system of checks and balances should step in.

      Hope this helps,



      • John says:

        Matt, thanks a lot for the follow up. That information regarding the IDIQ bids does make sense and I believe helps my understanding. It is at least good to hear that someone in your position also questions the amounts they need and would want answers if the full bid request numbers were funded and purchased or an attempt was made to do so. The reported need for the order to be hollow points for practice still feels odd unless this is also normal. I am all for practicing with what you carry as much as possible/reasonable and I know the costs can be close but we are talking about people with poor track records when it comes to spending money wisely.


      • It is not that uncommon at all. On a normal bullet basis, there is not much difference in the cost of FMJ vs. JHP and like you say – there is an advantage to practice with what you carry. If it is a premium HP the cost can be extra, but until a bid is awarded we will not know what bullet they chose. Every reason to ask why. They report to us, so they should have nothing to hide for sure!


      • I guess what we really want to know is when is supply going to catch up to demand? Conspiracy theories aside my local Walmart has a laminated sign that says we are sold out of the following ammo…and that list is any rifle and hand gun ammo. It is almost like they are not even attempting to order enough ammo to keep any on the shelfs. This is what I think alot of folks hang their hats on the Government big buy theory. I personally have never been a black helicopter, second shooter kind of guy but the current state of affairs does cause me to give pause on occassion. The shooting range I frequent does always have ammo but will only sell one box at time to be shot there. However there is a gun shop in the area that will sell you as much as you can afford. of course it may not be top shelf ammo but they have plenty of it. It is just frustrating that when I get the itch to shoot I really have to plan it. Spoiled perhaps but this is America. Thanks for letting me vent.


      • John says:

        I think I am going to have some issues no matter what the answer is regarding the hollow points unless the orders consist of both bulk practice as well as premium carry that is also practiced with a reasonable amount. If they are ever making large orders for only premium ammuntion for all firing drills as well as carry it is outrageous. If they are ever ordering only non-premium rounds that they also carry at least it is only foolish. I also agree with what everyone is saying about the frustration of the shortage being the real issue. As far as some good news, the place I usually buy bullets from got a nice variety of Sierra bullets in the other day. Of course even with restrictive purchase limits in place they were all sold withing 2 hours, probably more like 1 hour…


      • jeff says:

        Thank you for your frank and sensible response. And doing your best as a company to supply civilian shooters and government needs. Jeff


  8. Chuck says:

    The reason for the panic buying of ammo stems from the factual knowledge that Obama and his administration, as well as many Democrats in congress, wish to ban all guns and ammo. Many citizens feel our freedoms and our country are under seige from the Obama administration and many Americans feel they must be prepared to defend the constitution, our country and our way of life. This is a fact that cannot be denied. Remember Obama’s statement about ” clinging to our guns and bibles”. Well just those words and his attitude alone shows where his mind is. Very frightening.

    Why should anyone lose any rights under this administration in the first place. The president should support all our rights not just the ones he thinks we should have. Obama’s desire to support the UN treaty on making private citizen gun ownership illegal is absolute proof that he has no respect for the 2nd amendment thus the reason for the panic buying of guns and ammo.
    Strangely, many in this country careless about losing freedoms as they have no clue and are too busy to pay attention and or they believe everything they hear from this administration. Sadly, if nothing is done our country, as we know it, could be lost for ever.

    I am not a racist or a far right wing loon. I am just an ordinary citizen who loves his country. The facts are before us, use them, run them through your mind over and over and then you too will understand the panic buying is nothing else but fear of this administration. The fear is not made up, it is very real!


  9. Dennis the Menace says:

    Thanks for taking the time to educate those not in the know in the shooting community.

    I’ll tell you what and remember you heard it here first. If the Arts & Entertainment channel (A&E), and the Oprah Winfrey (OWN) channel would start a new segment of “Hoarders”, those that hoard ammunition, Huston, we have a new Duck Dynasty hit! LOL


  10. Mark Smith says:

    Thank you for a clear concise answer as to why prices went through the roof. I for one have refused to pay the outrageous prices and have shopped for reasonably priced ammo. Patience has allow me to keep shooting although at 25% less range time than I would prefer. At the same time I have seen which retailers have engaged in price gouging and they will no longer receive any of my business


  11. Paul says:

    Glad to hear someone is talking, so..
    When can we expect to see. 224 cal. SP bullets in the northeast?
    One more thing,
    I WANT A TOUR!! And want to roll around in all the freshly made bullets, of all calibers.


  12. JACK PEEK says:

    I’m a serious doubter of your words…..SIMPLE AS THAT.


  13. Pingback: DHS Tells Border Patrol They Have Ammo Shortage ?!?!

  14. Don Cooper says:

    Thanks for the “straight up heads up”, and thanks for such premier products!!!


  15. Tom Carvelli Sr. says:

    I seem to recall reading that the contract in question for ammunition was only for Winchester ammo.
    Federal is working balls to the wall 24 hours a day 7 days a week to try to keep up with the customer demand.


  16. don slone says:

    The government may not be directly buying your bullets but the fact is that they are not making it to store shelves. So who’s buying them?


    • Don – Shooters just like you. The reason they are not making it to the shelves is all our distributors are just as deeply backordered as we are. When the shipments get to the distributors, they turn around and go right back out to the customers and never hit the shelves. It seems like no components are shipping even though everyone one of us in the industry is shipping more than we ever have. Powder Valley has a great little write up on May 28th of this year on their Facebook page showing just how much extra they have received this year and their shelves are still bare.!/pages/Powder-Valley/114579301922351 It is simply a feeding frenzy and things will not get back to normal until it subsides. Sorry for the shortage, but we are shipping as much as we can and will continue to until we get caught up.


  17. Tom says:

    “When the shipments get to the distributors, they turn around and go right back out to the customers and never hit the shelves”.

    I don’t understand this. How to they go right back out to the customers without being on the shelf? I think we are being sold out. My local dealers are not getting the product, so panic buying is not all the problem. It is going somewhere if you are making it, but it is not going through dealers.


    • Tom, distributors like Midway USA and many others are very automated these days. When a shipment from us arrives at their receiving doc, the pick is scanned which tells them what is in it. They then unpack according to this and send the “already sold” stuff one direction straight to shipping and the “for the shelf” stuff the other to be processed, tagged and stocked on the shelves. With the amount of back orders they have in years like this, the whole shipment goes straight to the shipping department and out the door to fill back orders. Feel free to call them and check yourself. We have shipped over 3 times the amount of product to our retail outlets this year compared to last and yet everyones shelves are empty. If the government is buying it all, they are doing it at the retail level one order at a time. Little hard to believe don’t you think? If you have a Facebook account, go to Powder Valleys facebook page and look down to May 28th. They even listed how much more all the bullet makers had shipped them this year (Sierra was up 275% along with most others), so if we are all in on this, they are in on it with us. It is hard for us to believe the level of demand we have seen this year as well, but it is real and it is still here. It will take us a year to dig out of this hole even if it stopped today. Sorry for the shortages, but we did not create them and we are stuck with it just like you are. Matt


      • Gary Tune says:

        Matt, I have a problem with that answer. Powder Valley has a “no backorder” policy on components, and so does Midway USA. MidSouthShooters has the same restriction on many items. So how can they be filling “backorders” first?


      • Gary, Yes you are 100% correct. Once they reached a level of backorders that they deemed unacceptable or unmanageable, most stopped taking backorders. I have seen some that even though they have cleaned up all those backorders, they elected to not go back to that and just do an announcement (you see the “notify me” buttons on some sites) when they stock arrives. I have heard stories of entire tractor trailer loads of 22 LR going in less than an 45 minutes. The feeding frenzy is that bad. Please do not take our word for it, ask the distributors themselves for verification. Really though, common sense should tell you that we would be totally insane to do anything other than run as hard as we can as long as we can to make as much product as we can while this level of demand is still present. Anyone in our industry that is not doing just that should seek help – soon! Matt


  18. Davis says:

    If you have enough components for your USE then your fine. As in the past, shortages are followed by normalcy. In fact as of 9/9/2013 even my local Wally is now stocking and not many are buying. The shelves are 40% full and growing.
    Makers will not staff or buy equipment just to produce for short term sales bursts( common)
    The panic buyers as in the past will go away.
    Since I shoot a lot on a regular basis, I stock enough to last about 18 months.. Not for panic but because I don’t want to run to the store to buy when I should be shooting instead of loading.


  19. David Monson says:


    Just think what would happen if there was a report of shortages of toilet paper! Oh,Wait! There was, and it was a “government plot” as well. Not that there are not gov. plots. There are, but this one is bogus. The shooting industry as a whole will not sanction that kind of covert operations.


  20. Bernard Bibb says:

    I think that it is interesting to note that if the federal government wants 2 billion bullets they won’t be able to get them either. The citizens of this country will already have them.


  21. Harry Cole says:

    “So why the shortage of components”?

    Simple. We (the shooting public) are hoarding. When I see 175 grain Sierra Matchkings, Varget, or whatever, I buy twice or three times as much as I would buy before. Demand has went up dramatically, put the presses at places like Sierra were already running at max capacity.

    It’s pretty simple.


  22. Dave Sweet says:

    Is the forced shutdown of the USs biggest lead producer going to be a problem? Seems like the Govt is trying to stop the production of ammo and components. With this effect your company?


  23. Steve Pearson says:

    So why the shortage??
    Greed, fear, ignorance, etc. Some people buying up more than they will ever use, others with
    contacts with sellers that can buy what they want and resell for big profits (proof at gun shows),
    and many more people afraid of government laws and regulations, rightfully so.
    CCW classes at all time highs , hunting and shooting shows bringing in more people to shooting
    sports all the time, and rising crime rates pushing self protection more than ever before,and many
    other things. But what Matt is saying is true, because I have friends and family that work for Sierra
    Bullet and they are hiring new people and working more hours than they have for along time.
    I stopped( Sierra) in this week to buy some 9mm bullets and they were out and the sales person told me that they would not have any for quite sometime due to they are months behind on orders and
    probably would not run 9 mil until mid to late 2014. So we just need to wait out this mess and I
    think product will come back to the shelves and maybe prices will come back down some too.
    Just my view



  24. Sgt. says:

    Don’t forget that this shortage is also propagated by the element that mass orders/purchases these components/cartridges for the purpose of resale at a higher cost… all for personal profit. If I were remotely educated in the common practices within the shooting community, the temptation to mass order common/popular calibers and flip them for a 20-30% gain above normal MSRP would be quite tempting.
    I am an active duty member in the U.S. Armed Forces and I’m currently serving my fifth tour in a combat zone. I only mention this for a few reasons. Last year while heading home from post, I took a detour and stepped into a local (CONUS) gun store to pick up one box of SMK 175gr HPBT (the best!) and was greeted by several shoppers that engaged me with growing hostility. For purposes of brevity, I’ll mention that I was in my duty uniform and was questioned on my purposes for buying since I was an ascribed factor to the mass hoarding slash government takeover of ammunition & components. I was also “reminded” of the undisclosed location where the U.S. military keeps billions of procured rounds in what was described as a very large underground hole/facility. Without being able to retort, the crowd grew evermore curious and demanding, to the point where the store manager and his employees intervened and safely exfiltrated me out of the facility. In the parking lot the manager apologized profusely and shoved the box of .308 bullets I was reaching for into my hands and thanked me. I say this because these allegations were originating from the shooting community and the “facts” were nothing short of ridiculous.
    Remember when the media launched its campaign against “assault”-style AR-15s? Firstly, the terminology of assault-style weapons is an enigma, I’ve been in an unhealthy share of firefights against enemy insurgencies and I feel I know my definition of assault. What I don’t know is how it applies to a weapon platform. Sorry, I digress. Remember how the media launched the hornet nest into the shooting community about these “types” of weapons? Remember how the element jumped aboard ship and started buying up all the 5.56x45mm chambered semi-auto rifles and flipped them online for over double the price? That all originated from the [insert-scare strategy here] and it was the shooting community who decided to take a bite and panic. We all suffered, including employees working double-time on the assembly line. Sure, the manufactures profits skyrocketed 300+% but in the end, we all hung our heads in bewilderment, to include the said manufacturers. Remember how Hostess was on the down and that same element was buying up all the Twinkies and selling them on eBay for hundreds per box? In very short-terms it worked wonders and all the Twinkie enthusiasts sucked in their teeth when the supply went dry across the nation. I can promise you it is the same story here, same plot, different setting. There is no magical hole in Narnia where we supposedly store the supposed billions of .45 ACP/9MM JHP we appropriated from Federal. There is no mystery warehouse where we keep millions upon millions of .223 rifle rounds for the purpose of keeping it out of the hands of the American populace. There is no super-secret incredulous scheme preventing storefronts from restocking their shelves. BLUF (bottom-line up-front): It was rude for those that hoisted up this false flag of an impending ammunition lockdown, but it was more our own fault for buying into it and saluting that flag. In the end we are to blame, never Sierra or any other reputable company. God Bless them for taking on the charge to accommodate, my salute goes to them and all those that hold every amendment to our Constitution true.
    BTW, I used up 28 of my allotted 30 minutes of morale time to attempt to contact my first joy… my wife and children. Since I could not get in touch with them I jumped to my second love, reloading. Which in turn, naturally brought me here… to Sierra. Thank you for your time, I pray I didn’t waste yours. I also pray that this dry spell will correct itself. God Bless you all and Merry Christmas!


  25. Mike Chase says:

    Dear Sirs, I have been trying to purchase Sierra Game king bullets
    ( 180grain 30cal spire point flat base for months) Brownells , Midway, nobody has them — they can’t even say when they are getting any . Retail stores , shelves empty (always )
    Thought I would come straight to the horse and find out when anybody will start receiving “some ” product .
    Respectfully , Mike Chase


  26. Glenn says:

    I don’t believe that the shortage of ammunition and reloading components will end until the
    conservatives gain control of congress and the White House. So many people are paranoid,
    thinking that the Obama administration is intent on taking away all of the guns in civilian hands.
    One person that commented even stated incorrectly that Obama was supporting the U.N. in taking away all guns from American Civilians. If people would do some lengthy research when someone makes a statement instead of taking bloggers words as gospel, some of the paranoia would disappear.


  27. Curt B says:

    Every manufacuter states the same reason for the “Out of Stock” notices in stores and online. I have no reservations in saying that the manufacturers response is honest and trustworthy in the information
    I can backorder Sieera bullets thru a few online sellers…but I’m not gonna wait 6 months for shipment while an unknown persons company holds onto my money while I wait…so I stay watchful for an opportunity to buy either retail or online….online is difficult because of shipping cost so onliine ordering is iffy.

    What turns my stomach and shake my head in disgust….. is when people rant about the current administrations supposed wrongdoings while not wanting to mention the antics of the last administrations wrongs and lies and bogus reasons to take this country into a war that cost so much in money and lives on a notion that Sadam had WMD’s with absolutely no proof and has produced none nor found any WMD’s… stop the finger pointing at one direction and wake up!! That is a fact that all the hype into the Irag war was manufactured but I find it impossible to find where those that want fingerpointing towards Obama will not do the same towards that drunkard “W” and the coward Cheney. Theres much blame to spread around towards any political ideology or party and let’s not get into the profiteering caused by disinformation.

    I say wake up because…it is fascinating to locate some online auction and see where sellers have 2…3….4 bricks of 22’s and of the cheap variiety at that….and seeing prices posted as being $75.00…$150.00….more per brick. Digging a hole in the ground and hunkering down into a hole “IF” any social breakdown would occur is halariously funny to even concieve let alone do if such an event would ever occur….it would be game over for all. It is even more halarious to even think people buy into such looney concepts of the government buying all of the powder/primers/bullets/brass/loaded ammo and doing what with it? Dumping all this into some hole in the ground or into the ocean?

    I’ve seen the hoarders in Wally World on shipment days…just waiting…waiting with friends/family members in tow that will buy the “Threes the limit on any one kind of powder/primer/bullets/ammo”…and I know many sell it for double or triple the paid price…..Black Marketeers and let’s just call these as they really are….scumbags. Socalled fellow shooters that are selling you and I out for pure profit.

    I’ve had to stop much of my rifle practice and went into a lot of pistol practice and shotgun practice….I cast all of my pistol bullets and my 00 buckshot. A pound of powder will reload around 1,000 rounds of pistol ammo vs rifle reloading where we can get maybe 150 rounds per pound or less…usually less. And locating bullets? Sometimes. But who wants to spent $500.00 to $1,000.00 at one whack on just bullets to make the shipping cost pan out….I can’t…not right now at this moment….I spent thousands ordering in powder/primers when these were available and I certainly didn’t order massive amounts at that and to this day..I have not resold any product bought online or retail…not one!

    I’m trying to organize a buying group….a lot of distrust out there to say the least. But I’ll keep trying.


  28. Pingback: Sierra Matchking for hunting - Page 4 - Shooters Forum

  29. merbeau says:

    I have witnessed hoarding. Went to my local supply store and the guy ahead of me asked if there were any small pistol primers available. The owner said yes, and how many do you need? The reply was ‘all you got.’ Fortunately the owner told the person only two bricks per person. And I am sure this occurs with bullets, powder, brass, etc. I gave up shooting Bullseye because I could not find 22 ammunition. Yesterday (which prompted me to write) I came home from the store and logged into my email to find a notice that a powder i use for shotgun was available, The email was at 2:50 pm and when I logged into the site it was 3:15 and the powder was sold out.


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